The first major event for the 2016 season is the 174km Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race. Taking place around Geelong and Victoria’s famous Surf Coast, the 2016 edition, featuring 9 World Tour teams, is one of the biggest races of the season in terms of publicity for the team and also for the opportunity to race against some of the worlds biggest names.
For the State of Matter MAAP Team, it was a chance for the guys to race together before the upcoming Jayco Herald Sun Tour, a 5-day stage race that this year features dual TdF champion Chris Froome.
Knowing the calibre of riders in the race, it was always going to be tough to be involved at the finish, so the goal of the SofM MAAP Team was to get in the early breaks and have a chance to claim some sprint points. Luke Parker did his best to get away with Josh Taylor 10km into the race but got reeled back in straight away in the strong winds. At the 25km mark a break finally stuck, and unfortunately it was the one that the team wasn’t ready for. 5km later and the peloton sat up, meaning there would be no effort to bring back the front bunch for a long time to come.
For the next 40km the team did well to stay out of trouble, with several small crashes causing first Mitch Docker, and then Caleb Ewan to hit the deck.
As the peloton came into Geelong to start the first of 4 laps around a pinchy 15km circuit, Josh Taylor and Mike Cuming lost touch with the main bunch. From there, it was a battle for survival as the brutal climbs split the peloton. World Tour Riders were getting spread out up the pinches and the descents became a fight for survival. By the start of the final lap there were bodies everywhere, and thankfully Dylan Sunderland was still in touch with the main group, holding his own against riders with far greater reputations. 164km into the race and Dylan was hit with severe cramps, but still kept his head down and picked off other spent riders. In the final kilometers Chris Harper and Ryan Cavanagh were able to join the group Dylan was in, and the guys crossed the line +6.09 on the winner, British National Champion and Team Sky rider Peter Kennaugh.
All in all the SofM MAAP Team held their own against some elite World Tour riders, and they're confident of a strong showing in the upcoming Jayco Herald Sun Tour.